MSN Movies Blog

Hopkins' tops box office

By Kim Morgan Jan 31, 2011 12:26PM

Though many insiders claim it's the power of Anthony Hopkins that drew audiences to his newest picture, "The Rite" over the weekend, I say ... sort of.

It's really those billboards spread all over Los Angeles. All over the place. As in, everywhere. Even I, who ventures outside the cave infrequently, have seen Hopkins' face staring me down from, seriously, block to block. It's like Seattle and Starbucks. One on every corner.

I had no idea what the movie was about, though I gathered something to do with horror and religion, and as a result, I came home and looked the damn thing up to find out more. The billboards worked! Even as they got on my nerves.

Still, I figured "The Mechanic" would win over "The Rite."

Here's more from TheWrap:

"The power of Anthony Hopkins playing a priest compelled just enough moviegoers to make Warner's "The Rite" the No. 1 film at the domestic box office, grossing an estimated $15 million this weekend, according to studio data.

"A handful of other films took in $11 million each this weekend - notably the Ocar-nominated 'The King's Speech' -  still leaving the box office a weak 16 percent behind its performance last year.

"'The Rite' came in on the low side of pre-release tracking for the exorcism-themed film, which had a production costs of around $40 million while garnering a B score from  Cinemascore.

'We predicted a gross in the range of $14 million to $16 million, and we came in right in the middle,' said Dan Fellman, president of distribution for Warner Bros.

"Some tracking firms had 'The Rite' grossing $18 million or slightly more.

"Oscar nominees did brisk business, notably The Weinstein Company's contender 'The King's Speech,' which surged 41 percent to take in $11.1 million at 2,557 theaters. The film led the nominations pack with 12 nods from the voting academy.

"The weekend's other new wide release, CBS Films' low-budget remake of the Charles Bronson ode to pro killing, 'The Mechanic,' grossed $11.5 million, beating its studio's publicly stated estimate of around $8 million."


A video wrap-up

By Kim Morgan Jan 31, 2011 12:08PM
Here's a nice video wrap-up of the Sundance Film Festival brought to you by the festival itself.


The 'Midnight Cowboy,' 'Goldfinger' composer passes away at 77

By Kim Morgan Jan 31, 2011 12:04PM
The fantastic, multi-faceted, multi-talented, composer John Barry has passed away at the age of 77.

He will be greatly missed in the film community and has created some of the most enduring movie scores ever, from "Beat Girl" to the James Bond films to "Midnight Cowboy" and more.

Here's a wonderful Vanity Fair piece (written by Bruce Handy) about Barry before he passed away. It encapsulates his magic quite well:

"I was a melancholy kid, and growing up I found myself drawn to bright but melancholy music: Simon and Garfunkel, the gloomier Beatles tunes (George Harrison’s stuff), Smokey Robinson’s 'The Tears of a Clown,' and—a less likely favorite—the soundtrack to 'Midnight Cowboy,' which for years my parents played every night at cocktail hour, so much so that even now, whenever I hear it, I get a potent sense memory of the smell of gin and tonic. The soundtrack combined pop songs, including Harry Nilsson’s plaintive version of 'Everybody’s Talkin’, with a handful of orchestral cues, notably the movie’s main theme, with its loping, bittersweet melody played on harmonica.

"I hadn’t seen the movie—it was rated X when it came out in 1969, and I was 10—but the music spoke to me. It was sad but also glamorous, urban, and it had scope, a kind of wide-screen sweep—the score for a Western re-written as an Eastern. As I got older, I realized it was witty. And when I finally saw 'Midnight Cowboy,' I realized the music fit the movie’s odd meld of comedy and pathos perfectly: underneath it all, like the losers played by Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman, the music yearned.

"I knew from the LP jacket that John Barry had written the instrumentals and supervised the rest, which didn’t mean much to me until I saw my first James Bond movie, 'You Only Live Twice.' Watching it (in re-release) at the age of 11 was a revelatory experience, like mainlining a brand of movie heroin formulated especially for pre-adolescents—a peak filmgoing experience I’ve never really equaled. I noticed Barry’s name in the credits for that too. The same guy who did the sad, sparkling music for 'Midnight Cowboy' also did that sexy, almost excruciatingly exciting James Bond music? This may have been my first intimation of what 'genius' means. Or at least 'range.'"


Crazy good ...

By Kim Morgan Jan 31, 2011 11:52AM
The Sundance Film Festival, of which I had the honor of taking part in as Shorts Film juror, awarded its grand jury prize.

Which movie won? Considering it's positive buzz, it's not so, like, crazy.

Read here, from MSN:

"A film about young lovers in a long-distance relationship called 'Like Crazy' was awarded the grand jury prize for a U.S. drama at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. Its star, Felicity Jones, also received a special jury prize for acting in the movie.

"America Ferrera presented the acting award to Jones, who was not in attendance at the Saturday night ceremony, saying "the 2011 Sundance Film Festival will go down as the year of the actress.'

"Peter D. Richardson's film 'How to Die in Oregon' won the grand jury U.S. documentary prize. It follows terminally ill patients living in Oregon, the first state to legalize physician-assisted suicide.

"Also recognized were Mike Cahill and Brit Marling's sci-fi film 'Another Earth,' which won a dramatic special jury prize and the Alfred P. Sloan award.

"Cahill, who directed and co-wrote the movie, said 'this is the greatest week of our lives.' The film is about two strangers brought together the night before the discovery of a duplicate planet Earth.

"The Festival's awards ceremony was hosted by actor Tim Blake Nelson, who appears in the comedic bank heist film 'Flypaper,' which premiered at Sundance. Nelson told the audience, 'If you win a prize today, that's fantastic. Congratulations. But if you don't, persevere because if you have made it this far, trust me, your film will find a home.'"


Portman, Firth win top honors

By Kim Morgan Jan 31, 2011 11:43AM
Is there anyone even betting on the Oscars this year? It seems like, at least in the acting categories, it's a done deal. As Sidney Falco said: "The cat's in the bag and the bag's in the river."

Here's the winners of the Screen Actors Guild award via TheWrap:

"'The King's Speech' continued its week-long dominance of key awards contests on Sunday night, winning the feature film ensemble cast award from the Screen Actors Guild and reasserting its position as the clear favorite for the Best Picture Oscar.

"As expected, Colin Firth won best actor for 'The King’s Speech' and Natalie Portman won best actress for her role in 'The Swan.' [That's 'Black Swan,' by the way, TheWrap might one to get on that typo or too swiftly written entry]

“'The Fighter,' David O. Russell’s boxing drama, yielded both supporting actor wins, with Christian Bale Melissa Leo taking home trophies."


Through their poster art ...

By Kim Morgan Jan 28, 2011 3:15PM
What if movie posters just cut to the chase? Damn the real title -- this is what you really want, right? The Shiznit discusses the idea of truth in movie advertising by creating mock movie posters for the ten Best Picture nominees. Some of these are pretty funny. 

The Shiznit writes: "Join us as we dare to dream and imagine a world where the 10 Best Picture nominees had posters that had to tell the truth about the movies they advertise. What a magical land... "


The mighty wisdom of wine ...

By Kim Morgan Jan 28, 2011 2:38PM
My goodness. Finally! A genuinely sweet story involving alcohol and one of the Sheen clan.

That would be Emilio Estevez and his budding wine vineyard. The vineyard down the street from his parents, Martin and Janet Sheen. Can we have a collective ... awwww?

And on that note, Charlie --- please. Once you're out of the hospital, take a break, hang with the family, play with your kids, eat some cheese and stomp some grapes. Don't drink the final product quite yet, but, and, I'm going to make an assumption here, your family seems pretty nice. I have a feeling they'd make it easier for you.

Here's the story from the New York Times:

“'One day I came home and he had dug up all the grass,' recalled Sonja Magdevski, Mr. Estevez’s fiancée. 'He was like: ‘We’re going to plant! We need more space!’

"The year was 2005, and Mr. Estevez was working on 'Bobby,' a film he wrote and directed, about the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy. The couple lived, as they still do, in a Spanish-style home on a one-acre lot in Malibu — not exactly a prime locale for vintners.

"Mr. Estevez had already planted the front yard with vines, ignoring the protests of his parents, Martin and Janet Sheen, who live right down the street. (According to him, they said: 'You’re out of your mind. What are you doing?') Now, excepting the house, the pool and the bocce court, he was determined to fill almost every square inch of the property with 800 vines."


We love Ricky Gervais, and we think Hollywood still does too ...

By Kim Morgan Jan 28, 2011 2:19PM
Whatever Ricky Gervais haters. When he's in the right element, he rules.

His recent, David Brent-style hat-tip to Steve Carrell in the series he created --"The Office" -- is strangely ... touching.

Watch it here.

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